How iOS 16 and Android 13 updates will change your phone


CUPERTINO, Calif. — Around this time every year, our smartphones remind us to always be ready for change.

Indeed, Apple and Google are announcing updates to the operating systems that power our iPhones and Android phones. Soon the software that powers the devices will have design tweaks and new features – in other words, new things to learn.

On Monday, Apple unveiled iOS 16, the next version of its iPhone operating system. It will include new features like a redesigned lock screen and the ability to edit text messages. Last month, Google presented Android 13, which offers a simplified wallet app for storing credit cards and important documents such as vaccination records. Both companies also said they were improving their apps for sending text messages.

The new iPhone and Android operating systems will be coming to our phones as free updates this fall.

Apple and Google often accompany these software updates with loud language and promises. “Today we’re going to push our platforms further than ever before,” said Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s Chief Executive Officer, in a pre-recorded video for the event announcing the new software.

But in reality, many of the changes – especially the ability to retroactively edit text – are incremental improvements that feel like they should have happened a long time ago. Here are the most notable updates to look out for.

Apple said it’s making a change to the first thing you see when using an iPhone: the lock screen.

In the past, users could only change the wallpaper of their lock screens. But with iOS 16, iPhone users can customize the lock screen by choosing from different fonts and colors for the clock. Users will also be able to pin “widgets,” which are essentially shortcuts to apps like the phone’s calendar and fitness data tracker, to the lock screen.

These customizations could help us adapt our phones to our lifestyles. Consider that the new software will allow an iPhone user to create a number of custom lock screens for different scenarios.

For example, a lock screen dedicated to work could display a wallpaper of your office building and contain a calendar widget with your next meeting appointment. Personal time lock screen can show your dog wallpaper and exercise widget. The idea is that people will be able to switch between lock screens to better suit their needs throughout the day.

The pandemic has accelerated the use of mobile shopping as many people have turned to contactless digital payments to avoid touching cash. Apple has had a strong offering for electronic payments for more than five years with its Wallet software for iPhone, which allows users to make credit card purchases and carry important documents such as boarding passes and data. health.

Google, which has been struggling to bring its mobile payments technology to market, took the opportunity last month to dive deeper into payments with Android 13. For years, its Google Pay system has been severely delayed Apple’s payment system because few Android users have understood how to use the technology.

Last month, Google renamed its digital payment app google wallet. The company has simplified the technology by integrating a wallet shortcut into the Android lock screen. It also plans to expand the software beyond credit cards, to include documents such as boarding passes, movie tickets and proof of Covid-19 vaccination.

Anyone who has texted with a phone knows the digital divide between the so-called green bubble and the blue bubble.

When a text message is sent from an Android phone, it appears as a green bubble on the recipient’s screen, with often pixelated and distorted images and videos. Indeed, a green bubble message is sent via the network of the telephone operator, which automatically degrades the quality of the image.

In contrast, blue bubble messages sent between iPhone users go through iMessage, Apple’s proprietary messaging service, which maintains a high-quality look for photos and videos.

With Android 13, Google is trying to create its own blue bubble experience. The company integrates a technology called Enhanced Communication Services, which can send high resolution images and large files. It will also allow people to create group chats like most modern messaging apps.

Apple, meanwhile, is making changes to iMessage so that iPhone users can edit or recall messages after they’ve been sent. Retroactive message editing, which would save us the embarrassment of weird typos or accidental pocket text, is a feature people have been looking for for years.

These days, no software update would be complete without a Big Tech company claiming that they care about our privacy. Indeed, tech companies want users to feel safe sharing personal data, especially since European regulators and others have cracked down on them about it.

So naturally, Apple and Google have said they are offering more protections to user data in their upcoming operating systems.

Apple, which has long allowed iPhone users to give family members and romantic partners permanent access to their location data, said it would provide deeper controls for that data sharing if an intimate relationship went wrong. Its new software feature, Safety Check, will allow users to quickly review and revoke access to this data so they can protect their information from abusers.

Google said it would give users more control over data shared with third-party apps. In the next version of Android, users will also be able to give apps access to certain photos instead of their entire camera roll – a measure of protection against malicious apps disguising themselves as photo editing software.

If many of these changes seem long overdue, that’s because they are. Just as smartphone hardware upgrades have become increasingly incremental, software is also improving, albeit unremarkably.


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